Moving Forward/Looking Back

The past three months have been…trying.  Hospitals, urgent care, heart attack (Hubs), collapsing at work/wonky heart rhythm (me), strep throat on Mother’s Day (mid-kid), flooding front yard (thanks, Oklahoma weather), exploding light fixtures (no, dear husband, the house is NOT cursed), and a pile of medical bills high enough to serve as a decent sized step ladder.  Yep…let’s go with “trying.”

For a few days there, I seriously felt like I had been attacked by Dementors…or like my mojo went MIA.  I felt more than a little lost.  I am normally not That Person.  I tend to be pukingly positive, annoying optimistic, certifiably content…well, you get the idea.  But, for a bit, I wasn’t.  I felt rather…stuck…like I couldn’t quite get the energy to move forward.  Because, to be honest, forward was scary.  Forward was Unknown.  It might well hold more medical maladies, and it would certainly contain more bills and less money.  Never a good combination.  So, I sought refuge where I could.

I worked in the garden whenever weather allowed.  (For those keeping track, we have about twenty tomatoes and many more flowering, the peas are also blossoming—my daughter forbid me from saying that “the peas are pea-ing”—and the herbs are all growing like crazy.)  And when the rain was too heavy, the soil too sodden, I read.

I found an amazing site called Better World Books that has really inexpensive used books, and which makes donations to literacy programs when you make a purchase.  I found some books on Scottish history.  These books supplemented my obsessive Outlander re-re-re-re-reading.

I also randomly Googled my great-grandmother’s surname.  When I first got into genealogy, there was no internet (I know, I know, THIS is how old I really am!), and I could research other branches of my ancestry easier, so the lineage that I was most interested in was woefully neglected.  Now, though, INTERNET MAGIC happened.  I found ALL of the information!  Needless to say, there was much frantic printing, downloading, pdf-ing, and obsessive reading.

The Ulster Scot connection that I had heard of was suddenly explained, with extensive footnotes and hyperlinks, God bless them!  I read about Clan MacDonald of Dunnyveg and Antrim, and Clann Dhomhnuill, and Aonghas Mór MacDomhnaill.  I turned page after page and went back further and further.

mcdonnell_antrim
“Always Ready”

According to all accounts, my ancestors were cunning, and strong, and willful.  Right about now, I thought, I could use a bit of strength and strong fill.  Not sure about the cunning thing, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing, right?  Intrigued, I read on.

A fair few of them ended up hanged, and exiled, and martyred.  Sign of the times and all.  A pile of medical bills seemed like fair trade for not being drawn and quartered for some imagined offense.

I have always been drawn to All Things Scottish (no, not just the whisky).  I have a theory that it comes from ancestral memory passed down through DNA.  I read an article earlier this week about how phobias might be “inherited” from our ancestors. Some of the things I discovered in the historical documents definitely strengthened my musings that perhaps these things that I am drawn to have a familial/historical connection.

My foray into the past has also made me feel…steadier.  Revisiting my roots has made me feel more grounded, stronger, more certain.  If I come from a people who can survive all of THAT, what the hell am I fussing about this?

Looking back, I can see that it is time to move forward.

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5 thoughts on “Moving Forward/Looking Back

  1. Good to see new people getting into genealogy! One point though on the MacDonald’s of Dunnyveg (Clan Donald South) is that I’m not sure they would have described themselves as Ulster-Scots. They traditionally held land in Northern Ireland and the Western Isles of Scotland, but their association with Ireland really long pre-dates the coming of the Ulster-Scots, who were predominately, although not exclusively, lowland Scottish Presbyterians. Indeed Clan Donald South spent much of its last few years of existence fighting the Ulster-Scots in Northern Ireland and Clan Donald South really was indistinguishable from the ‘native’ Irish in many respects.

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    • I am still digging and making connections and much appreciate finding new info about my branches and the Clan in general. Still making the connections between Alexander McConnell born in approx 1659 in Dumphries and other bits of research. Love input and leads though!

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  2. If you manage to trace any part of your family tree back to 1659 you are doing very well. A note of caution though – in Scotland it is very difficult, and in some cases almost impossible, to trace your family tree back beyond the late-1700s with any certainty. I’m always a little sceptical of people (mainly Americans) who make very bold and confident claims about their ancestry pre-dating the standardisation of records in Scotland.

    Parish records vary greatly before the standardisation of 1855 and to give one example from my family, there are no birth records for Sleat on Skye before about 1813, meaning I can only trace my MacDonalds back so far. Irish records are even more difficult to trace.

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    • The McConnell branch I am tracing at the moment were in Rowan County,
      North Carolina (USA) in the 1700s. I traced that line back to Ireland and Scotland. Still a lot of loose threads. Have dug out all the old family Bibles I inherited and trying to piece together what I can. Wish me luck. I’d like to do the DNA project. Haven’t yet, but have traced back to common ancestors cited on the project.

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